Thursday, August 20, 2009

One Should Be Able to Put it Better

2 or 3 Things I Know About Her (1967)
directed by Jean-Luc Godard
rating: 4 out of 5 cravats
on DVD from Netflix

The argument against Godard is what, exactly? That, with time, he was more and more pretentious, condescending, reductive, and glib? As evidenced by a line like, "If you can't afford LSD, try color TV," ha ha.

I agree, sometimes, but isn't it because I'm far more jaded than Godard or any of his contemporaries could imagine in 1967? My generation was raised with a cynicism towards government and human nature that our parents (or grandparents!), even at their most political, barely aspired to. And anyway, so superficial a reading of Godard's improvisational impulses ignores the comedy in moments like young Christophe's dream.

"Suddenly one of the twins went towards the other," Christophe tells his mother, "and they became one person. And then I realized that these two people were North and South Vietnam being united." Do critics take that line at face value? It's a preposterous line spoken by a goofy-looking kid. When Juliette, Christophe's mother and the heroine of 2 or 3 Things, dreams, she wakes up reassured or else afraid. She has no answers, no solutions, but she tries.

I remember not liking Marina Vlady as Juliette the first time, but I think it was only because she isn't Anna Karina. But Vlady is remarkable, and far more appropriate for the brave, pensive Juliette than Karina and all her exuberance would have been. For the first time, really, this is a Godard movie that isn't just a fantasy, and so the poetry and the thoughtfulness he extracts from the Paris he says he fears are a resolute homage to the bravery of women in the modern world.